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Waltz Statement on FBI Elections Hacking Policy Change

Washington, January 16, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) issued the following statement in response to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) policy change to notify state officials if local election systems have been breached:

“Our elections system is perhaps the most critical of all infrastructure to our republic – and as we’ve seen in the past, it is constantly under attack from foreign powers who do not share our values. This policy shift from the FBI will be vital to improve our elections system and promote transparency, especially as we head into an election year. While this is welcome news, I will continue to press for voters to be eventually included and notified of breaches and will continue to push for full transparency.”

On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it would change official policy and commit to informing state officials if local election systems have been breached. In the past, the FBI would notify the affected county but under the new policy, information of tampering is also provided to the state’s chief election official.

In March 2019, the Mueller Report concluded that Russian military intelligence officers sent spearphishing emails to over 120 email accounts used by Florida county elections officials in the months leading up to the 2016 election. This operation enabled Russian military intelligence officers to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.

In May 2019, Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Waltz, both former national security specialists at the Pentagon, requested a classified briefing by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the Florida congressional delegation on the nature and extent of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in Florida during the 2016 presidential election.

During the briefing, federal officials informed the Florida delegation that Russia infiltrated a second county but federal officials did not authorize members of the delegation to disclose that information to the public. The counties’ names have still not been released.

The decision follows Waltz and Murphy’s legislation to require the Department of Homeland Security to notify state and local officials, certain Members of Congress and potentially affected voters when federal agencies identify an election system breach.
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